CNN – As work in the General Assembly on implementing a biodiversity treaty continues in fits and starts, one group has been at the center of a distracting controversy: allegations of idea theft. An unnamed delegate from Africa has added to the chorus that some European countries have stolen their group’s ideas. When reached for comment, European countries resoundingly denied this, with the Austrian delegate noting that they view their work “as a way to extend cooperation internationally.”
This might otherwise be the beginning of a reconciliation, however the oddly melodramatic saga began a new phase following the publishing of an article criticizing their work on Breitbart, a conservative American online journal. Once delegates became aware of the article, they would not answer press questions, not only those of Breitbart, but also of CNN and the Chinese Global Times. When a CNN reporter reached out to the working group again, they were greeted by the French delegate whom referred to them as “fake news” and a murmur of “off the record” from the other group members. Being unable to pursue the story further, CNN decided to interview the catalyst for this change in behavior: the author of the Breitbart article, contributor Tomi Lahren.
Speaking on the record, she said that she is very critical of the behavior of these diplomats, but views it as part of a failing of European states more generally; “it’s disappointing to see that journalistic integrity is being challenged by the leaders of these Western nations.” She added that “the European Union is a global elite that tries to mask the truth from other superpowers, like the U.S.” While Ms. Lahren’s claim of a broader trend has not been verified, it is clear that the behavior of these diplomats are making it harder for the press to report on what is happening at the highest levels of international diplomacy. More importantly, it puts the question on whether the United Nations can fulfill its basic responsibility as a seat of international dialogue.